Because only fools think it is that easy to find gold.
**Disclaimer … In no way am I a miner and I do not intend my statements about mining further or digging deeper to interpret true into mining**
I am writing this blog post after some reflection and a ton of chance meetings since moving to Silicon Valley a few short months ago.
I arrived back in December.
Me though, I was different from all those other people moving here on a whim. They were chasing hopes and dreams, but me, I was surely chasing destiny.
I had been accepted as part of a team into YCombinator. And that I thought had surely made me special.
I was destined for greatness. There was no way I could fail. After all who hears the bad stories that come out of YC?
That is the attitude of someone who is destined to fail.
And what makes that so hard to say is that I now know I am talking about myself.
I did not fail in most senses. Truth is I have it better than most people my age. At 25 I have never really worked a “real” job, yet I make really good money to do what I love. I play with computers, I write software and I help people. And for some odd reason people pay me to do that. It’s honestly a pretty good feeling.
So I really only failed in the sense that I thought I was different. I thought I was immune. You see when people tell you the streets are paved with gold you really WANT to believe it.
You go to great lengths to do so. Even when deep down you know it’s not true.
The truth is the streets are paved with Pyrite. It looks like gold and if you’re willing to keep digging further below it you might actually find some. but if you’re content to stop when you hit the pyrite and pretend its gold then ultimately you’ll end up the fool.
The valley is a place full of hard knocks and crazy tales. On every corner you meet the guy who is going to be the valley’s next billionaire. I think its not out of line to say I have already met one or two of those people as part of YC last cycle. But just remember for everyone heroin tale you hear about. There are probably 10,000 who came but did not conquer.
You are not immune and you are not special.
I think it is important that you hear that, and that you listen. The only thing that will separate you from everyone else that moved here with the same dreams and goals is your work ethic. And if you aren’t ready to work for it just leave now. Save yourself the time, save yourself the heart ache. This road is not easy and its damn sure not always fun, but the end is even better than all the stories they tell if you make it there.
The truth about me is I did not have enough to lose. My Aunt probably said it best last week at dinner when I made a joke about being out of work after the recent split with my company. She just looked at me and said
“Zach, you’re the wealthiest unemployed person I know.”
Sadly, that was a point I had not yet thought of. Although she probably was not kidding. The truth is I had very little to lose in coming here.
My girlfriend came with me. She was putting much more at risk than me. She left a school and friends she knew for an unknown place and an internship with a company which at the time really only existed on paper.
I was the lucky one here. I even got a fortune cookie a few weeks before I left that said this:
Now that was only a piece of paper stuffed inside of what some would call a funny shaped sugar tart, but in my case it probably was the truth.
The reality is that I’ve worked hard and earned what I have, but most of the struggle was too long ago, I don’t remember much of the suffering I went through to get here and I thought by the time I moved to the Valley I was different, I was a “Chosen One”.
The truth is no one is “Chosen” and everyone who makes it does so not by being the best at what they do but by working their asses off.
You can get to the valley in lots of ways, whether you’re accepted into YCombinator or get in on a late night greyhound only to sleep on the streets with your macbook pro.
The one thing that matters is that you know what’s in store for you.
It’s a long hard road, but it’s a damn fun ride.
Get ready for ups and downs. Get ready for twists and turns. One day you’ll be on top of the world and the next you’ll feel like the whole world is on your shoulders.
But you’ll get so much further if you just remember this one thing.